Museums are experiencing a thrilling and vibrant moment. In the digital era in which touch screens and interactive systems are daily technologies in exhibit spaces, intangible values are the ones that have the priority now. Museums are reconsidering their discourses, giving more importance to participation, dialogue and emotion in the experience, meanwhile museum design incorporates immersive large-scale installations, artificial intelligence (AI), holograms and especially borderless technologies.

How has the exhibit space changed? What is the role and meaning of the object on an experiential museum context? What is the center of attention? In this post we are going to see some examples of new museum projects.

MORI Building Digital Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, a project by the TeamLab company. Built to celebrate the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is the world’s first complete digital museum.

The 50 digital kaleidoscopic installations are exhibited in 10,000 m2 of empty surface area. With the design of new functions for walls, pavements and ceilings, using mirrored surfaces and incorporating complementary elements, the resulting space receives virtual reality mappings technology that, capturing real-time shadows produced by the visitors, generate new artworks.

One of the ideas of the authors is to break down physical barriers by making projections on all types of surfaces in order to generate the feeling of endless space. Immersive installations are large-scale digital art works in which visitors can enter, interact and be part of them.

At the end of the year 2017, the Holocaust Museum, in Illinois, premiered the first three-dimensional holograms in the Take a Stand Center, with the aim of preserving stories of the testimonies of a generation that lived in the Nazi concentration camps. Since 1994, Steven Spielberg and the Shoah Foundation have recorded 55,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and have collaborated with the Illinois Museum to create virtual characters, who through reflection and the Pepper’s Ghost effect were transformed into holograms. The result is a public conversation in real time with the holographic image of a survivor.

The exhibition uses speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence to allow visitors to ask questions about the experiences of thirteen Holocaust survivors and hear their answers that become increasingly relevant as artificial technology accumulates and learns new information over time.

Another example is the permanent exhibition Story of the Forest of the National Museum of Singapore, made by the same Japanese company Teamlab in 2016. It presents 117 meters of continuous augmented virtuality projected in real time on the screen. In this case, the virtual experience consists of the recreation of drawings of the XIX century William Farquhar’s book. The use of technology turns the illustrations into living interactive creatures, recreated with their natural ecosystem allowing the visitor to collect animals and plants with the use of mobile phones.